Membership of an Irish Clan

An Irish clan is a kinship group formed around inherited cultural identities that are real or assumed.

Historically, membership of a clan was determined by use of the clan surname, living in the clan territory and sharing in the culture and heritage of the clan. Today, to belong to a clan one must at least inherit or choose to carry the clan surname and identify with the culture and heritage of the clan.

It is a requirement that members specify on the annual registration renewal form the geographic territory that your clan or historic family is associated with. This ensures that people using the same modern surname may have equal access to registration with Clans of Ireland, provided that there is acceptable evidence that Members using the same surname are of clearly defined different geographic or ancestral origin. To this has been added the requirement that all existing Members of Clans of Ireland should recognise that other kindred groups of the same name may be granted entitlement, ceteris parabis, to apply for registration with Clans of Ireland and that such applications will be contingent on the inclusion, within the application of their authentic geographic or ancestral origin. In future, such applications will be treated by Clans of Ireland as if the surnames bore no more association with each other than similarity. This will effectively mean that there will be increased reliance on scholarly evidence of an existence of synonymy between the geographic or ancestral origin of the kindred group and the surname. To this end, Clans of Ireland will make available a list of academic reference material, albeit incomplete, to enable Members and applicants to access historical references between family/clan and territory. It has been decided by the Board that existing Member organisations that have not provided such evidence are to be asked to do so by 31st December 2021. Members that do not provide this will be designated as Members that are Surname Groups, without any loss of status, as a member. In future, Members qualify to be either Clans, Historical Families or Surname Groups. The result of all of this is a further development in the manifest individuality of each fine or clan, whereby the distinctiveness of origin will be clearly distinguishable from any other Clan or Historical Family, ensuring more complete historical integrity.

If you wish to register with your Irish Clan please consult the Register of Clans and contact your Clan directly.

Clans of Ireland does not recruit individuals to specific Clans.


Our function is to:

  • Authenticate and register Irish Clans and Historical Families
  • promote the interests of Irish Clans and Historical Families
  • provide authentic and scholarly information related to Irish Clans and Historical Families.


Please follow the links below to find out how to apply for registration as an Irish Clan.